Only four out of every 100 planning applications to Fenland Council get it right first time - and that’s not good enough says planning boss

PUBLISHED: 12:45 10 August 2020

Cllr Will Sutton who quizzed the portfiolio holder for planning Cllr Dee Laws at a meeting of Fenland District Council, Picture; ARCHANT

Cllr Will Sutton who quizzed the portfiolio holder for planning Cllr Dee Laws at a meeting of Fenland District Council, Picture; ARCHANT

Archant

Only four out of every 100 planning applications to Fenland District Council get it right first time.

The startling omission was made by Cllr Dee Laws, the portfolio holder for planning, at the last full meeting of Fenland District Council.

Responding to questioning from her predecessor – Cllr Will Sutton – she said “obviously it would be most helpful” if applicants put in a better performance.

She said only four percent of applications are correct on a first-time submission, a standard she described as “very poor”.

Cllr Laws said: “All I can do is to applaud the (planning) team who do everything possible to bring those validations forward.”

She felt the council was being used wrongly to check on the work of professional agents by having to check every everything included scaled drawings.

Cllr Laws said: “Very basic information is missing and I am nearly getting to the point where instead of being so helpful maybe if we a refuse a few and send them back they may be a bit more prudent at sending them back.”

She felt it was “a burden on our staff” and Cllr Sutton agreed, saying that “enough is enough, we are not architects”.

Cllr Sutton had raised the issue of the time it took to validate applications and he checked on the situation weekly.

He accepted that the system may have “gone somewhat awry” because of Covid-19 but was disappointed the situation had not improved as he might have expected.

Cllr Laws agreed that Covid-19 had impacted on the planning department’s work and that also one member of staff had underlying health issues had been absent.

But there remained the issue of applications not being submitted to the correct standard which meant speedy validation had proved difficult.

She also said validations would normally only take up to five days- the ‘clock’ on timely decision making only then kicks in.

Cllr Laws also spoke about a Government white paper on planning reform.

“I am not sure where we are going to go with this,” she said. “I will read it – it is so early, only just arrived on us.”

“This is no new, none of us had time to look it. I cannot make much of a comment; maybe I can answer this at the next meeting.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Cambs Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Cambs Times